Dead Mall: Totem Lake, Kirkland WA


Today I paid a visit to our local dead mall, Totem Lake of Kirkland, WA. I’ve written of prior visits in 2005 and 2006

Little had changed.

Here is my photo essay of today’s visit.

Totem Lake Mall’s status as a dead mall has been exhaustively and impressively documented by Kirkland Reporter Matt Phelps in a 5-part series written in 2011:

  1. Part 1: The history of Kirkland’s Totem Lake Malls
  2. Part 2: The fall of Kirkland’s Totem Lake Malls
  3. Part 3: Totem Lake Malls’ redevelopment rumors avert new business
  4. Part 4: The current impact of Kirkland’s Totem Lake Malls
  5. Part 5: The future of Kirkland’s Totem Lake Malls and neighborhood

I’ve lived in the neighborhood 10 years and the mall is virtually unchanged from the day I arrived. Each time I drive by I feel like I am passing a mausoleum, or some kind of ruins from a 1970’s civilization.

(At left: A photo from the early years of the mall)

It’s puzzling that it can’t be solved, the question of what to do with this abandoned tract of retail wasteland in the middle of a well-off suburb. The answers seem so simple– “it needs lattes,” my daughter suggested. I wish they’d put her in charge.


  1. Great post, and reminds me of Winrock Mall in Albuquerque. I really love your urban documentary photos, well done.


  2. What a depressing joint — but it’s uplifting to see a post from you! By the way, I note that I get many hits on my blog from links on yours, so there are quite a few folks who come here regularly for your blogroll.

  3. Wow, that dropped ceiling sure is an improvement! Wonder whose bright idea that was. Maybe that’s why the place failed. Dreary.

    Great to see you posting here again.
    == Michael Höhne

  4. Haunting.
    Best option for the Dead Mall: Hollywood. It’s the perfect location for a “Left Behind” B Movie.

  5. I always find such spaces fascinating. The hint of life and activity while being so quiet and lifeless, makes you wonder about the potential of this space.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. That’s spooky. The place is in surprisingly good shape for having been abandoned so long. It’s just open for walking through?

    I’m with your daughter on the lattes. You could have a Starbucks (or better yet an independent cafe) as an anchor store and use the rest of the space for paintball or something.

  7. :p thanks! What IS with the dropped ceiling? Ugly.

    There are a few anchor stores on the outside of the mall, but none that use the interior entrances. I have no idea why it is open to the public.

    Loud classic rock blares in the empty mall which adds to the zombie apocalypse effect.

  8. bikethru

    Endorse Richard P: I always go to Typing Ball via Strikethru. It’s a ritual.

    Like the post. There’s a place like that down the street from my work in London. Two full-size fake pirate ships outside, mall utterly deserted for years, except one weekend a year it hosts the London Tattoo Convention and the area crawls with inked people.

  9. I’ll echo Richard in noting a number of hits from your blog to mine – thanks! Also, it is good to see a post from you.

    I have a perverse love of dead and dying buildings and enjoyed your post. Enclosed malls are an endangered species with untold hundreds needing to be repurposed at some point in the near future. As for the zombie apocalypse effect, playing zombie is a favored pastime when I am with my kids at a mostly vacant mall or airport terminal.

  10. Here in the UK our town centres slowly give way to betting shops, coffee outlets and thrift stores. But the big city malls seem to be limping along OK. Lovely (right word?) photos. I’m very pleased to see a post from you on clickthing. Like Richard, some of my best traffic comes from your blogroll 🙂

  11. Two words: Silent Hill! Yikes.

    Ugh. Drop ceilings. The library at my high school, the Las Vegas Academy for Performing Arts, used to have a beautiful vaulted ceiling with WWII-era lamps and exposed beamwork. But then they covered it up with a drop ceiling to save energy. Boooooo.

  12. Anonymous

    Dumbass does not know what he is talking about. 24 hour fitness would not relocate to a dead zone. If you have not been to My Home Furniture and Décor, your missing one of the best stores in the NW